Scottish Thistle Awards announces shortlist for Best Business Event

Maggie Aderin-Pocock - Space Scientist and Science Communicator, at DataFest 2019

FOUR major international business events have been shortlisted for a national award at the Scottish Thistle Awards.

Scottish Event Campus for All-Energy Exhibition & Conference 2019, EICC for TEDSummit 2019, The Ethical Farming Conference 2019 and DataFest 2019 will battle it out to be crowned the Best Business Event at this year’s Scottish Thistle Awards National Final to be held on 5 March at the EICC.

The category celebrates the importance of business events in showcasing Scotland’s world-class credentials to the world in sectors ranging from life sciences to gaming and food & drink. It also acknowledges the country’s attractiveness and capabilities as a destination for congresses, meetings and incentive programmes from around the world.

The four finalists in the Best Business Event category are:

  • DataFest 2019 – this two-week annual festival of innovation took place in March and included more than 60 events across the length and breadth of Scotland with more than 4,000 people taking part. This year’s event included core events – Data Summit, Data Talent Scotland, Data Tech, Women in Data Science Event and the Executive Dinner – as well as fringe events organised by members of the data science community. Judges were impressed by the impact of the event in Scotland and on an international stage in the critical global data community
  • EICC for TEDSummit 2019 – This entry demonstrated the collaboration involved in securing the TEDSummit for Edinburgh which saw 1,000 TED delegates from 84 countries for five days of creativity, entertainment and 59 thought-provoking TEDTalks. Judges were impressed by the far-reaching benefits to Scotland in terms of collaboration, logistical delivery and the positioning of Scotland as a place were ideas can change the world.
  • SEC for All-Energy Exhibition & Conference 2019 – The UK’s largest renewable and low carbon energy exhibition and conference attracted almost 8,000 participants in 2019 as well as 250 exhibitors and 600 speakers. Judges were impressed with this example of important world issues being addressed within business events held in Scotland, in addition to the logistical prowess shown.
  • The Ethical Farming Conference 2019 – 200 delegates attended this event at Rainton Farm in Dumfries & Galloway in May 2019. The event was crowdfunded by The Ethical Dairy with the aim of positioning Scotland as a global leader in regenerative farming and a lead on the discussion. Judges were impressed by the innovation and collaboration that went into the organisation of the event with four farm businesses working together on the programming, networking, as well as the high-level ambition to discuss an emotive topic

The Scottish Thistle Awards, now in their 27th year, help shine the spotlight on individuals and businesses going above and beyond to create a destination and visitor experience worth talking about amongst our valuable tourism industry. They champion the very best of the Scottish tourism industry, celebrating innovation, success and excellence in the sector.

The finalists in the Best Business Event category will now join the winners from the Scottish Thistle Awards Regional finals at the National Final taking place in March next year.

VisitScotland Head of Business Events Neil Brownlee said: We are delighted with the strong calibre of business events shortlisted for this award, which is a reflection of the excellence and innovation that makes Scotland a world-class destination for business events. But these awards ultimately allow us to recognise the important role of business events in driving economic and social change.”

Rebecca Brooks, chair of the Scottish Thistle Awards Industry Panel and VisitScotland Board member, said: On behalf of the panel, I’d like to congratulate all those businesses and events shortlisted for the national final. The Scottish Thistle Awards give those working within tourism in Scotland the opportunity to earn the recognition and appreciation they deserve from their own industry peers. We look forward to celebrating another fantastic year of excellence, innovation and success with all our wonderful national finalists in March.”

The Scottish Thistle Awards are led by Scotland’s national tourism organisation, VisitScotland, and supported by a panel of industry representatives including the Aberdeen City and Shire Tourism Awards, Highlands & Islands Tourism Awards, the Association of Scottish Visitor Attractions (ASVA), the Hospitality Industry Trust Scotland, Scotland Food and Drink, Scottish Tourism Alliance, the Scottish Licensed Trade Association, sport Scotland and Wild Scotland.

For more information and to purchase tickets, visit

The latest stories